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November 13, 2008

Mostly Viral Top Traffic Alternatives, or SEO on a Shoestring Budget

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Why are all these rooms so cold? I have my gloves back on again and I’m still shivering.

Carolyn Shelby is our moderator for this session. Speakers are Brett Tabke, CEO, WebmasterWorld.com; Marty Weintraub, President, aimClear.com; Jessie Stricchiola, Founder & CEO, Alchemist Media, Inc.; and Gary Kirk, Co-Founder, Technical Director, Rating Room Ltd.

Gary Kirk is up first.

Three basics for a successful site:

  • Good, relevant links to your Web site: He’s not talking about that in this session.
  • No obstacles to search engine spiders: He’s not talking about this either.
  • Content that attracts and converts: This one he’s talking about.

Good content is available for $0 so he’ll be concentrating on that. He’s also focusing on local search because 90 percent of transactions are local.

Why is content king?

Google can’t send valuable, relevant users to your site without it. It’s a vital component in the decision making process for visitors. It doesn’t have to cost a cent, but it is always worth investing time into. You’re the best person to write it because you know your business. It doesn’t have to cost anything because it should all already be in your head. It doesn’t have to be terribly detailed either.

To beat the people above you, you need to look at the top ten results in Google. Local business are up against Yellow Pages, directories, Google Local/Maps, franchises, review sites and others. Sometimes Google does indeed value big sites more, so you’ll have to pick your battles.

The way to do it is through content. You can be more granular. You know your business better than they do. You have a choice between being a provider or being THE provider. Good content on local business Web sites will reassure the visitor “this is the right service provider for me”. When you get a testimonial, don’t just publish it. Tell people what you did in that case by describing the services and process. The best that many non-local competitors can do is to provide a list of potential providers of the service.

Link to testimonials in two ways: with their name and location. This way you will get traffic from location-based searches and from service pages, so you should link with the service you provided.

Most local searches are unique and combine geography (town, country, state, neighborhood, zip code, etc.) with a service descriptor (“plumbing”, “blocked sinks”, etc.). You need to pick the ones that are you target area — don’t pick every query, but all the important ones. Once you have a decent list, take those to Google and do searches to see who your competitors are.

Rewards from local content:

  • Conversion from visitor to customer can be remarkable for specific searches.
  • Targeting lots of well researched text phrases can and often does work fast.
  • Better organic results, often combined with PPC, can reduce overall ad costs.

Marty Weintraub is our next speaker. He engages in a little rant about how his blog vanished. Hee. He’s so energetic.

He reads the session notes. He promises to keep this lily white. Nothing that you wouldn’t tell your mom. Thanks, Marty!

Okay, the assumption is that you have you, your WordPress blog and a grudge.

Set up to publish quick, clean and viral. For this, we’re assuming a primary and secondary publishing system. How do you mashup WordPress into your site? Integrate it to pull in headlines from your blog that will relate to the page content. Make sure you’re publishing cleanly.

If you have existing content + fanatical attitude + half a brain = free content.

Figure out what you do already and who cares about it. What communications already emanating from our company might have viral proclivity if published properly? What if we could get others to champion our content? Email is the greatest social network.

[This all sounds much less amusing than it really is. It is, however, just as schizophrenic as it looks. Wish you were here.]

Good content can come from:

  • Media relations
  • Investor relations
  • Community
  • Customer
  • Internal
  • Human interests
  • Public relations

Nuclear “send to friends” degrees of separations. Everyone you know knows someone else. Make them share it.

Believe in “signs of human life”. Mash evidence of it onto PPC landing pages.

Viral means getting everyone else to do your work for you. Vanity bait with your business feed, talk about people you know, about your employee product recommendations, requests of input, link out to non-competitive and complimentary resources.

What’s already going on?

  • Owner’s manual updates, product registration
  • Any press releases
  • Internal procedure and event logistics
  • Product recall information and other disasters
  • Weekly specials
  • Annual report

Tips for content SEO sourcing, SEO success:

  • Set up a schedule and stick to it. Example: every Tuesday at 1:00.
  • Don’t write the Magna Carta every time.
  • List posts are famous for a reason.
  • Link out/vanity bait other writers.

Time for a tactic. An experimental tactic. One that was talked about during the SMX Advanced. Oh, it’s the one that Lisa called totally unethical. Hee. The nice part about this is that now I don’t have to recap it. You all know where to find Lisa’s rant about SMX, right? Don’t worry, Lisa and Marty are BFFs now.

Brett Tabke wraps it up. His presentation is called “What if there were no search engines?”

Brett used to work for John Deere and they used to do awesome things online. Then one day the search engine traffic just vanished. What happened? The CMS was throwing 404 errors and there was no way to search. So if the search engines go away, where do you get your traffic?

Google generates 80 to 90 percent of search engine referral, depending on who you ask. Sixty-four percent of Internet users arrive at sites by direct navigation.

Where do you get your traditional traffic? From type-in traffic, from reciprocal link exchanges, strategic alliances. Directories still offer some traffic, but stay away from fake directories, affiliate farms and FFAs, top 100 sites, and awards managers.

[And they whine about nofollow links on Twitter profiles. Am I the only one who thought that was awesome?]

Sources of traffic:

  • Press releases and the local paper are low cost alternatives.
  • Contests can be good lead generators. You need to do you homework first or you’ll run into legal issues or management issues.
  • Awards are old and directed but they still work.
  • Guest books are still out there. They tend to work better for female centric sites.
  • E-greeting cards are dead in Brett’s opinion.
  • Email newsletters still work, but they have a downside: huge commitment, monthly work, labor intensive.
  • Send to a friend.
  • Kids! They’re great at viral marketing. They swap SMS messages and mention and recommend products.
  • Pete and Repeat.
  • Usenet and forums. Always check the TOS of sites to see what is acceptable. There is little that is more powerful than a good old profile referral.
  • Coupons. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. Internet users have redeemed a coupon online. Sixty percent of Pubcon attendees used a coupon.

[I just noticed that Brett isn't using the official Pubcon PPT template. Branding fail.]

Giveaways are big.
Blogs are great.
Traditional offliners work — classifieds, trade magazines, radio and TV commercials.

The main thing is that once you get people to your site you need to DO something with them. Give them great service. Email, email, email. Speed. Answer quick and give them a real response.

An audience member suggests sending out reminder emails halfway through the month to get people to come read your monthly newsletters.





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